Texan billionaire Bill Foley says his top priority will be to connect with the Auckland community to make an A-League expansion club succeed.
He says key staff with community roles must be found in New Zealand, and not imported, when he gets the final go-ahead to launch the country’s second A-League club.
“We’re going to be totally involved in the community,” he says. “This is a community team.”
In a 12-minute interview with NewstalkZB breakfast host Mike Hosking, Foley said he was in the venture for the long haul and would spend to the maximum of the salary cap to ensure the teams had the best players, with marquee stars.
He said his preferred name for the club was Black Knights, in line with the name of the club that owns English Premier League club Bournemouth, and a stake in French club FC Lorient.
He said he and his family were committed to New Zealand, with extensive business interests already in the country.
“I love New Zealand; I love the people,” he said, describing himself as “a semi-Kiwi.”
Listen to the full interview
Who is Bill Foley?
Foley (78) is a United States-based owner of multiple sports teams and he has strong business connections to New Zealand.
Foley is the general partner of Black Knight Football Club, which owns 100% of AFC Bournemouth of the English Premier League and a significant minority ownership interest in FC Lorient of France’s Ligue 1.
He is also the owner of other sports and entertainment assets, including the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, which was an expansion team in 2017 and won the ice hockey’s Stanley Cup in 2023.
The Texas-born former US Air Force officer and corporate lawyer has invested in a diverse portfolio of businesses that range from insurance firms, to hospitality businesses and auto parts manufacturers.
His personal net worth was estimated by Forbes magazine at US$1.6 billion in 2023.
Foley owns multiple businesses in New Zealand, including Foley Wines Ltd, a public company listed on the NZ stock exchange, consisting of five wineries in Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago, a restaurant group with venues in Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown, including the iconic SOUL bar in Auckland, as well as the luxury lodge Wharekauhau on the South Wairarapa Coast.